Welcome to one of the most historic places in Igbo land. Arochukwu is the third biggest city in Abia State, with over 19 villages in the region. It was once the Aro Confederacy of Ibibio people before the British invasion and the Anglo-Aro war in the early part of the 20th century. Now it is the home of the Igbos, Ibibios, and Akpa people.
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Here are a few places that put Arochukwu on the national map for tourism:
1. The Arochukwu Slave Trade Route
This trail, known as the Arochukwu Long Juju Slave Trade Route, is an important tourist destination in Arochukwu town. It is a six foot gully that leads to a long series of dark tunnels.
According to traditional history, it was once a shrine (the Ibini Ukpabi) that was used as a judgement centre. It became a slave trade route when blindfolded victims were taken through it to the river where boats waited to send them to Calabar for final shipping to Europe.
The Arochukwu slave trade route is the only slave trade route in Nigeria that is associated with caves. It also contains the stream Iyi-eke, a waterfall, and the gate of no return otherwise known as the destiny gate.
2. The Onu Ibina Cave
Besides the many caves, shrine, waterfall, and tunnels of the Long Juju slave trade route is the spectacular Onu Ibina cave. Onu Ibina is at Ihechiowa in Arochukwu LGA. Interestingly, it is open to tourists for exploration.
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3. The Okoroji House Museum
This prehistoric clay house, built in the 17th century by a local chief who was a slave merchant during the trans Atlantic slave trade era, is also a museum. The National Commission of Museums and Monuments declared it a national monument in 1972. Artefacts in the house include shrine objects, slave chains, manillas, old pots, wooden images, swords, and other weaponry. Filled with invaluable resources for historians and researchers, the Okoroji House is one of the richest monuments in Nigeria.
4. The Arochukwu Festival (Ikeji Aro)
The Ikeji Aro is a new yam festival believed to have started in 912AD. This 21-day or month long celebration in all the villages within the Aro Kingdom occurs in September. It is a homecoming for all indigenes of Arochukwu, whether they are within Nigeria or in diaspora. At the festival is a rich cultural display of dancing by diverse cultural troupes, colourful parades in traditional attires, royal processions, singing, making music with traditional instruments, feasting, prize giving, and masquerades. It is a time of thanksgiving as the people mark the end of a year and the beginning of a new one. This is a great occasion to witness.
Getting to Arochukwu by road might be tough, the closet airport to it is the state-owned Akwa Ibom International Airport. But there is a heliport in Arochukwu (Mazi Alex Otti’s heliport).
Though Arochukwu is not a commercial city like Aba or the cities in the south west, the potential for its tourism to bloom exists. Properly harnessing this potential will make the town a must-see tourism destination in Abia State.
Featured image source: Hometown NG
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